Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

EML102 Research Skills Guide: Choosing your keywords


Use the key concepts and qualifying terms identified by a topic analysis as a guide to brainstorm alternative keywords, synonyms and related terms. Synonyms and related terms allow more flexibility and breadth when searching.

Below is an example of some keywords and synonyms from the example topic:

Keyword Synonym / Related term
computer laptop, tablet, device, information technology
21st century twenty first century, millennial, modern, contemporary
education teaching, school, learning, training


Write down the key concepts from your topic and have a go at brainstorming as many alternative keywords and phrases as possible.

Thinking about your topic in this way forces you to describe your topic in "other words", which will provide you with some useful keyword alternatives as well as help you to cement your understanding of the topic.

Find additional keywords

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.

Oxford Reference Online is a huge repository of subject-specific dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and other reference-type material.